Dolby Atmos Vs Dolby Vision: Key difference, which is better?

When it comes to sound and visuals, there’s no relenting with Technology. In fact, new experiences, systems, and avenues are being introduced to help you have a great time when watching movies, music, or just being at the cinema. So, Dolby Atmos Vs Dolby Vision, which is better? Let’s discuss it!

Dolby Atmos Vs Dolby Vision: Key difference, which is better?

How does this work at home with standard Blu-ray players? 

There is no equipment available for home theaters that support Atmos and Vision. The official explanation is that Dolby Vision requires a proprietary Dolby Vision player and content, which support “static” metadata. In other words, not all players will accept the DV metadata baked into the frame as it arrives from Netflix.

Dolby Atmos Vs Dolby Vision:

Two of the latest technologies making airwaves today are Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. The former is aimed at improving sound experiences, while Dolby Vision is all about improving visual quality on the screen.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos allows sound to be moved precisely in three-dimensional space, moving from one speaker to another with great detail and precision. In addition, the explosive realism of a soundtrack can be placed precisely where it belongs in a movie scene. 

The system also operates at lower volumes than previous systems, which means that you hear every whisper and only the dynamic sounds that are part of the storytelling.

The term object-based audio refers to an advanced surround technology that enables discrete audio elements within a film soundtrack (e.g., dialogue, music, effects) to be assigned specific locations in the horizontal plane and/or vertical plane so they can arrive from anywhere in three-dimensional space.

Dolby Atmos has up to 128 audio objects. A dialogue scene, for example, can have 20 background voices and a character voice at 40 different locations surrounding the audience.

What is Dolby Vision?

Dolby Vision is a proprietary HDR technology that uses dynamic metadata that lets filmmakers control contrast, color, and brightness with scene-by-scene precision for each display device on which their movies are played. This technology aims to make images look amazing every time and provide a new level of richness and accuracy. 

Can I mix Atmos and Vision?

You can playback both Dolby Pro Logic IIz processing and add front-height channels that enable you to place sounds in the front of the room and behind it, creating more detailed, accurate effects from even ordinary stereo content.

If you happen to have an A/V receiver that supports both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision it’s best not to combine these technologies.

What is the compatibility issue between Atmos & Vision?

Many of the existing Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker systems include upward-firing drivers capable of projecting sound upwards to support the creation of overhead sounds. 

Several models also include firing speakers with floorstanders or satellites angled towards the ceiling to create a pseudo “vertical” surround setup.

If these speaker configurations are installed in front of a conventional flat-screen TV, an obvious problem arises when switching from 2D viewing mode to 3D. While watching 2D content, you have two options: 

1) turn off the overhead speakers so that they don’t project sound directly toward the viewer or 

2) use some form of polarization filter to stop those speakers from projecting directly into the viewers’ ears.

Both of these options are obviously less than ideal as option 1) completely removes overhead sounds from a 3D presentation and option 2) adds an extra cost for consumers, plus additional steps in terms of installation and calibration. 

It would be much simpler if all sources could be routed to a single set of drivers on the front left/right channels so that conventional flat-panel TVs can be used with a ceiling-mounted Atmos speaker configuration.

Unfortunately, due to technical limitations, Dolby Vision is not easily compatible with upward-firing speakers, so you cannot simply switch between Atmos and Vision content without affecting the viewing mode. 

The question is, why would you want to switch between Atmos and Vision content when playing back a 3D movie? Is it really necessary to have both technologies running in parallel if they are ultimately competing for bandwidth within the HDMI cable?

The answer, of course, is that you wouldn’t want to switch between them – but this creates an interesting scenario where manufacturers are faced with having to choose between one or another technology.

For example, if a manufacturer were to create an up-firing speaker configuration that included 2 ceiling speakers positioned on either side of the TV screen along with 4 traditional floor-standing/satellite speakers angled towards the ceiling, then it can be assumed that these upward-firing drivers should be used by default while watching 2D content.

However, if you were to add Dolby Vision support into the mix, it becomes a challenge to route all of these channels from both technologies simultaneously to the same set of drivers without creating compatibility issues.

The result is that manufacturers cannot simply add additional up-firing speakers and layers in Dolby Vision without considering how they plan to support 2D & 3D content simultaneously. 

However, this does not mean that one technology has been dropped in favor of another! Have any manufacturers announced Atmos-enabled TVs with a ceiling mount configuration? Yes, they have, but none come with a pre-installed upward-firing speaker system, so you would need to buy an additional unit or install them yourself.

The current generation of UHD TVs features HDMI 2.0a, which can be used to drive current Atmos speaker configurations, but this does not necessarily mean that the same system could also handle 4K 60p visuals (forward & backward compatible with HDMI 2.0/1.4). 

You see, the additional bandwidth required for HDR video cannot simply be “added on top” of existing infrastructure so it is possible that new cable standards will need to be introduced at some point down the line. 

Although HDMI 2.0a is capable of 8-Bit color depth, it currently only offers support for 10-bit color depth when it comes to video playback over consumer electronics devices – even though professional equipment is often able to work with 12-bit data streams instead.

It should be noted that HDMI 2.1 will bring official support for 12-bit color depth over consumer electronics devices while improving bandwidth to 48 Gbps, which will enable the Atmos system to be pushed beyond its current limits.

But why bother with 8-Bit color depth in the first place if 10-bit is available? How did we get stuck on 8 bits without considering 10 or 12 bits?

The problem lies in how Blu-ray discs are encoded. Standard BDs encode 24 Gbps worth of data within a 36 Mbps stream which means that extra care has to be taken when managing video compression. 

By comparison, 4K UHD movies need more than three times the amount of data i.e 72 Mbps, so it becomes incredibly difficult to guarantee a consistent level of quality.

If you throw in HDR data as well, the requirements for video playback become even more stringent.

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Here are a few facts to get us started:

  • Both technologies use height effects, speakers, to add an extra level of immersion. These speakers can be in-ceiling or Atmos-enabled speakers (i.e., they include their own amplification and processing). Many consumers prefer in-ceiling or Atmos-enabled front speakers for movies that support overhead soundtracks because they produce cleaner, more refined sound in most rooms.
  • Atmos is an object-oriented format, meaning that the sound is encoded into “objects.” A Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver can place these objects anywhere in your room with its unique upmixing feature. Any surround speaker that’s at ear level or below (i.e., not overhead) will play the original sound intended by the mixer without any manipulation. Other speakers placed above ear level (overhead) will be mixed to reflect their relative position in your room; you’ll hear sounds coming from all around you—including directly over your head—producing a mind-blowing sense of realism and immersion.
  • The Onkyo TX-NR787 has an Atmos upmix feature. It uses algorithms to take non-Atmos source material and create a virtual overhead track for each speaker; the result is enveloping, detailed sound that’s sometimes indistinguishable from true overhead audio—even on speakers where you might not expect it (i.e., floorstanding front speakers).
  • While both technologies require height effects channels, they’re handled differently: Atmos puts height information in existing channels; Vision encodes full height content into every video frame. So with Vision sources (Ultra HD Blu-ray), there is no need to add height effects channels to accommodate Dolby Atmos mixes. Just listen and enjoy!
  • The only current source of Vision content is Amazon Instant Video. They offer the app for select Sony TVs (currently, models X85D and W85D—see compatibility list), along with an upcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray player that has embedded Vision technology.
  • While the 1080p resolution limit imposed by current HDMI standards allows Atmos to deliver a truly immersive surround sound experience through height effects speakers, consumers are pushing for more. They want it all! True 4K video combined with today’s state-of-the-art surround formats result in amazing realism and immersion- Atmos or Vision- no matter what you call it. Now you know… so go enjoy some movies.

Atmos and Vision: What’s the Difference?

Before we start, let’s clarify one thing: They both sound great, and it depends on your home equipment.
But for this article, we’re going to tackle some of the subtle differences between two popular high-end audio formats: Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.


In the end, it all comes down to personal preferences. But there are certain aspects that in my opinion, make Dolby Atmos a better format than Dolby Vision.